CHERBOURG, France -- There are few surprises to the Azamara Pursuit for any agent or passenger who has been on one of the seven other R-class ships built from 1998-2001 for the defunct Renaissance Cruises.

The Azamara Pursuit has the same brass railings in the stairwells, the same vaulted ceiling in what was designed to be the library, the same dark wood paneling and classical decorative touches that were original to the R class.

And now that it has joined two of its sister ships in the Azamara Club Cruises fleet, its carpets, upholstery and cabin furnishings have been harmonized with the Azamara Quest and Azamara Journey, reflecting the updates they each received two years ago.

Still, there are a few changes that were made in converting the former Adonia after Azamara acquired it from P&O Cruises.

Perhaps most notable is the absence of a casino. Azamara president Larry Pimintel said its removal could be controversial for some, but after consideration it was decided the space could be better used.

"A casino on a small ship that's in port all the time, you can't often open," Pimentel said. Eliminating the casino reduced the crew count by 12, and those crew quarters contributed to an increase in the number of cabins from 342 to 351.

Also contributing space to new accommodations was a repurposing of the guest relations area on Deck 4. The Shore Excursion and Cruise Again desks were moved up to Deck 5 where the casino once stood.

The bath in the new Spa Suite on the Azamara Pursuit.
The bath in the new Spa Suite on the Azamara Pursuit. Photo Credit: Tom Stieghorst

The area, which was re-christened The Den, also houses a bar called Spirits, the photo gallery and what remains of the library. Putting all of these functions in one place seems to work well, although it leaves the guest relations desk as a rather lonely outpost isolated on Deck 4.

The other major change to the Pursuit in its metamorphosis from the Adonia is the addition of new suites. "There are a lot more suites," Pimentel noted. "That category is what sells first."

For starters, two 414-square-foot spa suites were added on Deck 9 adjacent to the spa. The pair, first introduced on the renovated Quest and Journey in 2016, have a whirlpool-style tub in the bath that is located on the edge of the ship next to the 40-square-foot balcony. A window extends from the tub edge to the ceiling, providing an amazing view.

The neutral gray-beige color scheme adds to a feeling of spaciousness. Azamara said average pricing for the Spa Suites is $889 a night.

Azamara also completely redid the accommodations on Deck 8, adding 16 Continental suites.  "The Continental suites didn't exist with the previous ship owner," Pimentel said. "So we literally took X number of cabins and turned them into these suites."

The suites feature 266 square feet of space, compared to 175 square feet for a Club Veranda, the most prevalent cabin size on the Pursuit. The Continental Suite also has a 60-square-foot balcony, 50% larger than on Veranda accommodations.

Travel agents onboard the Pursuit likened the Continental suites to junior suites compared to the larger aft suites already built in to the Pursuit.

There is a truism that the ship is the destination on some lines. By design, it is the opposite at Azamara. At every turn, Pimentel emphasizes that "Destination Immersion" is the essence of the brand.

"The whole point is connecting this brand to the local culture," he said. "It's something that has allowed us to differentiate ourselves from the competition."

That competition includes Oceania Cruises, which operates four of the same R-class ships that Azamara has, and Viking Ocean, which is building a dozen new ships of similar size to the Pursuit.

Pimentel said Azamara has strong competitors. "The good news is there's enough business for all of us," he said.

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